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Jun 13, 2014

RUGGIER READY TO CHALLENGE SIMPSON AT WINTON

AFTER PRESSURING the dominating Ryan Simpson all the way in the opening round at Mallala, Kumho V8 Touring Cars Series rookie Justin Ruggier is confident of continuing his strong form in round two this weekend at Winton Motor Raceway.

The Kumho Series, for ex-V8 Supercars, is one of six National categories competing in round four of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals at Winton this weekend.

Click here to check out the practice session results.

All six classes practiced in sodden conditions today, consistent rain turning the 3.0km circuit into a skating rink for much of the days running.

Ruggier (pronounced Roo-shier) lapped quicker than Simpson – who won all three races at Mallala in April to take an early Kumho Series lead – in the second and third practice sessions held today.

Having finished second to Simpson in the opening round, Ruggier says he has his sights set on the Kumho Series benchmark this weekend at Winton.

“We want to go out there and press him (Simpson) to his limits,” he said.

“He’s a very good benchmark to have, but we’re in a very good team and I want to make sure that we deliver. At this track, I think we’re a shot.

“When you watch TV and see someone dominating a series what do you want to do? As a competitor, you want to go out and beat them and that’s why we are here. You can’t rule out the other guys like Matt Chahda and Tony Evangelou, who are really good drivers, but Ryan is who I am out to beat, 100%.”

The Melbournian says he has settled into the welcoming Eggleston Motorsport outfit, headed up by former V8 Supercar and GT racer, Ben Eggleston and Rachael Wagg. The team has tasted success in the V8 Supercars Development series for the past two seasons and has performed strongly in their debut Kumho V8 Touring Car season.

“This team is right up there on the elite level, they make you feel comfortable in the car and have very good equipment. They want to win, so I want to be with a team that has the same outlook as me.

The minute I rolled out on the out grid, first time in the car and never sat into it, and to hear that noise it’s no wonder so many people love racing in this category. It was pretty emotional for me, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Today’s results in wet conditions set up a tasty Holden-versus-Ford battle in the V8 heartland again this weekend, Ruggier driving the car that won the 2006 V8 Supercars championship at the hands of current Jack Daniel’s Racing Nissan driver, Rick Kelly.

Simpson drives a Sonic Motor Racing prepared BF Falcon – a car used successfully by Craig Lowndes under the Team Vodafone banner.

Two-time Winton V8TC Round winner Tony Evangelou was third in his ex-FPR Ford Falcon. The Kumho Series tackles qualifying and their opening race tomorrow ahead of a further two races on Sunday.

Hamish Hardeman finished second in the opening round of the Australian Formula Ford Series at Mallala and looks to continue that form into his home round this weekend, topping a 19-strong field in unofficial practice today.

Hardeman headed two of the three sessions conducted today – all three in torrentially wet conditions – and topped his Sonic Motor Racing teammate Nick Rowe and BF Racing’s Jordan Lloyd for much of the day. Round 1 winner James Golding was fifth fastest in the third session – where all competitors ran timing – on Friday afternoon.

The Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series, Kerrick Australian Sports Sedan Series, the Australian Sports Racer Series and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia all completed practice sessions today ahead of official running commencing on Saturday morning.

Practice, qualifying and racing will feature on the Saturday program, culminating in 30-lap mini-endurance races for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and Australian Saloon Car Series and sprints for Australian Formula Ford and the V8 Touring Cars.